Marc Altheim Stats
Resides in Great Neck, NY (Long Island)
Web site http://www.beachtennisusa.net/
- Founder and commissioner of Beach Tennis USA (BTUSA), recognized by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) as the governing body of Beach Tennis in the United States. The ITF has Beach Tennis pages on their web site.
- Played High School tennis and became a recreational tennis player at an advanced level (4.5)
- Learned about Beach Tennis during a summer vacation in Aruba in 2003
- Beach Tennis came to Aruba from Holland in 2000
- Started Beach Tennis in New York and Southern California
- Formed Beach Tennis USA and the National Beach Tennis Association
- National Beach Tennis Tour kick-off in 2006
- Marquee event: U.S.Beach Tennis Open Championship, attracting players from across the nation as well as many other countries
Beach Tennis USA
Five years ago Marc Altheim started Beach Tennis in the USA and used regular tennis racquets, while the rest of the world used Beach Tennis paddles. Only recently has Beach Tennis USA started to mandate the use of paddles for tournament play. Altheim, who calls Beach Tennis “Badminton on steroids,” points out that the sport attracts many purists who have never played regular tennis before. Beach Volleyball players who are migrating to Beach Tennis are a big part of that group. Professional players are showing up everywhere now who, according to Altheim, “reek of stardom.” They are making money playing tournaments and slowly becoming household names in the sport, like Nadia Johnston, Nicole Melch, Marty Solokas, and Stephen Sayoc.
Altheim calls the relationship with the ITF as very good. “I am very pleased with the ITF and how they are listening to Beach Tennis concerns. When they heard that we wanted to create a World Beach Tennis Association, the ITF took charge.” He is currently advocating a rule change to raise the nets a little. “At 5 ft. 7 in. the points are over too quickly and that’s why I think we should raise that height.”
As the governing body of Beach Tennis, BTUSA is also sanctioning tournaments, like the USTA sanctions regular tennis tournaments. Altheim notes that the USTA was waiting a long time with a decision whether they should get involved in Beach Tennis. In the end it turned out that they felt they had enough on their plate and were happy to acknowledge BTUSA as the governing body of Beach Tennis.
Altheim plays Beach Tennis at least twice a week, often on his own backyard court. When Beach Tennis is played on non-sand surfaces, such as grass, the net is generally raised by at least 3 inches because the players can jump a little higher. Recently, there were reports of Beach Tennis being played on grass and in the gym on Long Island, and even in the snow in Buffalo.
On January 2011 Buffalo saw its first ever Snow Tennis tournament. The BTUSA web site states, “With over 150 players trying out Snow Tennis for the first time during the Flurrious Winter Festival at Delaware Park and seventeen teams competing in the inaugural tournament it was a very successful weekend. Play started on January 15th in very snowy and windy conditions, it didn’t stop people from trying out a very new game. Snow Tennis is based on the sport of Beach Tennis popularized across Europe and South America. Snow Tennis is an all volley game, the ball doesn’t bounce, the court is 26′ x 52′ and the net is 5’7″ high. It is scored like tennis and played in the snow.”
Beach Tennis future in the USA
Marc Altheim would love to see the sport of Beach Tennis spread all over the country and plans to actively support it everywhere whenever possible. He also wants local organizations to put on sanctioned events, find sponsors that provide prize money, and attract national and international players. And he wants to not only encourage tennis player to pick up the paddle. “Surfers, skateboarders, and Beach Volleyball players are also welcome. Beach Tennis would come very natural to them,” adds Altheim.
Another one of his prime goals is for the ITF to make Beach Tennis an official Olympic discipline. He points to Europe, where the sport has amazing growth rates. As an example he mentions Ravenna, Italy, with its famous beaches on the Adriatic Sea. “They have 5,000 Beach Tennis nets on a length of 30 km of beaches over there (19 miles).
Altheim quotes Donny Young, a pro Beach Tennis player and founder of West Coast Beach Tennis in Hermosa Beach, California, “Beach Tennis is to Volleyball what snowboarding is to skiing.” Young’s partner Marty Solakas is co-founder of West Coast Beach Tennis. He has been playing the game of tennis for over 20 years and beach tennis since 2005. As a current player on tour, Marty has achieved a #1 ranking in the country and he is a top international player as well. Altheim states that Solakas is going to be the official Licensee for Beach Tennis in the Los Angeles area.
Beach Tennis USA is all about growing the sport in this country. Marc Altheim is a successful businessman who knows the importance of profits to survive those first years while he’s making the sport popular. To help defray the immense expenses related to promoting Beach Tennis and organizing a national championship tour without a real big national sponsor, he allowed BTUSA to also be a merchandising company selling Beach Tennis equipment. Paddles go from $23 to $199, and Starter Kits with paddles and net are priced from $199. His mantra: “Beach Tennis has to be fun!” – he’s trying to enable people with all wallet sizes to participate in this fun sport.
10 Questions for Marc Altheim
- If you hadn’t gone into Beach tennis, where would you have gone in life?
I would have gone in the music business. I love going to concerts
- If you retired today, what would you do?
I would ski in Vermont in the winter, and play Beach Tennis in the summer
- What is your favorite tennis book?
Days of Grace by Arthur Ashe
- Why do you think British tennis players have such a hard time winning Grand Slams?
They probably drink too much tea
- What is your favorite tennis tournament?
- In Pro-Tennis, if you had the power to make a historic decision, what would you change today?
I would go to no-ad scoring
- If you were able to start all over, what would you do different in regards to your Beach Tennis career?
I wished I would have started with paddles right away 5 years ago
- Are we in the USA doing the right things to develop future tennis champions?
Obviously not. Ask Nick Bollettieri!
- What can the USTA learn from other countries’ tennis associations?
USTA is the leader in the world. They don’t need to learn anything from anybody.
- Who is for you the greatest tennis player of all time?
Thank you, Marc!
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